A GREAT Italian Restaurant must have GREAT Italian food!
First and foremost, regardless of authentic ambiance, if the restaurant’s food is mediocre, the restaurant doesn’t stand a chance of making any must-visit list.
AROUND THE GLOBE
My husband and I are huge fans of Italian food. We have eaten in Italian restaurants in Rome and under the Rialto Bridge in Venice in Italy; in midtown New York and in Little Italy on Manhattan Island; in San Diego, California, and in various cities in between, including Vancouver, Edmonton, and Toronto in Canada.
UPSCALE & DUMPY
The restaurants we have visited have been both upscale like Nocello in midtown New York and dumpy like the little pizza joint in the back of a grocery store in San Diego. But we would return to both places in a heartbeat – the first for its tremendous creamy risotto, the second for its hearty juicy pizza pie.
Pomodoro is another example where the quality of food far outweighs the atmosphere. It’s a very cramped eatery on the corner of Spring and Mulberry in Little Italy, New York, but its pizza and lasagna are well worth a return trip.
Having said that, atmosphere usually plays a major role in our initial choice of a restaurant, like the one under the Rialto Bridge in Italy. On our very first afternoon in Venice, we feasted on a huge plate of risotto and a glass of house Chianti while watching the gondoliers float by. Not many restaurants can rate higher on the wow! scale than that experience.
Price is a factor in our restaurant choices. Because we know we don’t have to spend a fortune to get great-tasting food, we will usually avoid the high-priced Italian restaurants. Nocello is an exception.
We love this family-run midtown Manhattan spot. The atmosphere is typical old-world Sicilian with its bottles of olive oil infused with herbs, wooden furniture, and Italian decorations.
A Christmas Eve dinner, four courses with wine, dessert, and tips came to $150US. But because of its amazing goat cheese salad, creamy delicious risotto, and hearty pasta, the higher cost was fine.
CAUTION READ THE MENU CAREFULLY
A word of warning when it comes to cost be extremely diligent when choosing a restaurant in Italy. Read the menu carefully as the price may be determined by weight and not by plate. We got a nasty surprise in Venice when a tasty fish dish ended up costing us 35 EUROS instead of the 7 EUROS we saw posted in the